No Longer At Ease
by Chinua Achebe
No Longer At Ease Identity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Obi's listlessness did not show any signs of decreasing even when the judge began to sum up. It was only when he said: "I cannot comprehend how a young man of your education and brilliant promise could have done this" that a sudden and marked change occurred. Treacherous tears came into Obi's eyes….All that stuff about education and promise and betrayal had not taken him unawares….
In fact, some weeks ago when the trial first began, Mr. Green, his boss, who was one of the Crown witnesses, had also said something about a young man of great promise. And Obi had remained completely unmoved….But now when the supreme moment came he was betrayed by treacherous tears. (1.9-10)
Obi had always been principled. He believed that his education made him less prone to corruption because he was able to advance in his career without bribery. But now, faced with his own deceit, he has to admit that his identity as a "young man" of such "brilliant promise" is forever cheapened. For more on Obi's downfall, check on his "Character Analysis."
Joseph was not very happy when Obi told him the story of the interview. His opinion was that a man in need of a job could not afford to be angry.
"Nonsense!" said Obi. "That's what I call colonial mentality."
"Call it what you like," said Joseph in Igbo. "You know more book than I, but I am older and wiser. And I can tell you that a man does not challenge his chi to a wrestling match. (5. 16-18)
Joseph here is telling Obi the equivalent of the English saying, "Pride goeth before a fall." Obi's hubris – his assumption that he cannot be corrupted because he is educated and understands more than the common man on the street – will be his downfall.
"We have our faults, but we are not empty men who become white when they see white, and black when they see black."
Obi's heart glowed with pride with in him.
"He is the grandson of Ogbuefi Okonkwo who faced the white man single-handed and died in the fight. Stand up!"
Obi stood up obediently.
"Remark him," said Odogwu. "He is Ogbuefi Okonkwo come back. He is Okonkwo kpom-kwem, exact, perfect." (5.100-104)
The men of Umuofia begin to bestow an identity on Obi. They suggest he is his grandfather reincarnated, and that means part of his job will be to stand proud as a black man, and to stand up to the white man.